Is your heart OK? Stay healthy, be aware


Some people know that they have a heart problem, but some don’t.

An unrecognized heart condition can lead to an emergency, something most of us would like to avoid. Here are some signs that your heart may need attention and some suggestions for staying “Heart Healthy.”

Chest discomfort or pain that spreads to the arm, may be a sign of a heart attack. Also, nausea, indigestion, and heartburn. If you think you might be having a heart attack, call 911 and go to the nearest emergency room. Tell them you think you are having a heart attack, and they should start to evaluate you quickly.

Assuming you are not having chest pain, other symptoms of heart disease include shortness of breath, dizziness, swelling of the legs, and fatigue. Heart disease can be related to sleep apnea and diabetes. If you have these problems, you should see your doctor. Gum infections can also be related to heart disease. Ask your regular dentist if you are taking care of your gums correctly.

If you are not having chest pain, other symptoms may suggest a heart problem. You can check your own pulse rate, which should be between 60 and 100 beats per minute. Faster or slower heart rate can be a sign of trouble. Blood pressure can be checked at your local pharmacy. Check it several times, when you are feeling calm. 100/80 is normal blood pressure and lower numbers are acceptable. High blood pressure should be treated with medication.

Elevated cholesterol or blood sugar can cause heart problems. If you are concerned about your heart, you should see your primary doctor, who will get a blood test for cholesterol and blood sugar levels, which should be in the normal range.

Lifestyle issues play a role in heart disease. Obesity, cigarette smoking, lack of exercise, excessive alcohol, and a diet high in fats can lead to heart problems. Getting rid of these risk factors will not be easy. Talk to your doctor about difficulties you may have in improving your lifestyle. He or she may be able to suggest treatment or may be able to refer you to professionals who can help. 

If heart disease is suspected, your doctors will do an electrocardiogram and blood tests, then consider all these areas of heart-related health. The doctor may send you to a cardiologist who will do various tests to determine how the heart is functioning. You may need a monitor to wear for 24 hours. You may need a stress test, walking on the treadmill to see how your heart reacts to stress. You may even need coronary artery catheterization to consider the condition of the arteries in the heart wall.

Staying healthy and watching for signs of trouble should be the secret to success with your heart health. Stop smoking, cut down on alcohol, eat less (if you are overweight), and eat healthier food. In addition, keep your blood sugar levels and cholesterol levels low.

Exercise is an important part of staying healthy. Make sure that you walk at least one mile a day. 


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